As a news anchor and reporter, the words that come out of your mouth and the information you give to the community is the most important thing you do. It’s imperative that the public service we provide is accurate.
While that is and should be priority number one for journalists, let’s not forget about priority No. 2. Me, myself and I.
In my short career, I have tried to seek out the reporters and anchors that I strive to be. They have a few things in common: They are good at what they do, they are at a place where I want to be, they are respected and they own their personal brand.
Now you might think that being a journalist would just require you to take ownership in your writing and to promote your work and your company’s work. While you are right, you also need to be given credit for the awesome job you do. Reason No. 1 for capitalizing on your personal brand.
One of the best ways to own your personal brand is to have your own website. I recently discovered this in building my personal brand. Throughout my wonderful Twitter network, I have met people that have built a website for me that I can promote what I do. Whenever I have a story I am proud of, I post it on my website. Then, if I have a news director or someone I want to show my work to, I just send them to my website. While they’re there, they can see all the other things that I do. My personal brand. It’s a hub for my Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc etc etc. It’s a perfect place to centralize all your social networking sites to show people you have a grip on modern technology and social networking. Plus, you can do a little bragging about yourself.
Another bonus: Think about when you apply for a job. How great would it be to just send a news director a link to www.your-name-here.com where your reel, resume and list of references are. Your website might be so captivating they might stick around for a while, get to know you, and who knows, maybe you’ll have something in common? Something that catches his/her eye and gives you a one-up on the competition. Although most stations still like to have that DVD in hand to look at, I wouldn’t be surprised if within the next few years, news directors just wanted a link they could click on. Why not K.I.S.S.? (Keep It Simple Stupid!)
Let’s be honest, the shorter, more concise the resume the better. The more to the point the cover letter the better. Everyone is busy, the majority of news directors will not read a piece of paper you mail them. But, in clicking through your snazzy website, they might stumble upon a cleverly written bio or blog. Think of it as another way to brag on yourself. Don’t have room on your resume to list all those wonderful volunteer activities? Or what about a blog you wrote that you are particularly proud of? Put it on your website. Who knows, the news director could find something he likes.
I know building a website is expensive. Trust me, I just went through it. But there are plenty of ways you can do it for not very much coin at all. Setting up a free WordPress blog and downloading a free theme is easy to do. It does get complicated when working with templates and adding your own twist, but it’s nothing a little reading and FAQ pages couldn’t help solve.
One more branding tip: I would suggest going to all the popular social networking sites, video sites, etc and signing up. You never know when you might need it, and you want it to be “YOUR NAME.” Not “Your Name 135” because someone else beat you to the punch. I recommend going to Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Livestream, Ustream, WordPress, Blogger, Tumbler, Shutterfly, EventBrite, Air Talent Social, Google Profile, LinkedIn, Doostang, and the list goes on and on. I know there’s a lot and it’s a daunting task to manage them all, but just because you have an account on one of these sites doesn’t mean you have to be active with it. I have an account at most of these sites, but I only actively use a handful of them. The point is to stake your claim in your name in that site, before someone else does. Who knows, your next boss could require you to have a TwitPic account!
Own everything that is your name, take pride in it and use it to your advantage.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between self-promotion and a personal brand. Although it is a thin line, I believe it’s one we as journalists should be careful not to cross. At the end of the day, we are not the story. And although you probably did a fantastic job in that piece, and you should promote it on your blog, don’t be obnoxious. If you have to ask, “is this too much?” The answer is probably yes.
By the way, my new website just went live, thanks to the help of WaveJam. There are still a few things that need to be finished, but check it out. I’d love to hear your comments: www.nikkiburdine.com.
Get to branding!